The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) confirmed last week that a new state record tiger trout had been caught. On May 5, 53-year-old Kelly Flaherty caught a 18.49-pound fish on Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket in Okanogan County. The angler, who was visiting from Idaho, used a worm and egg to lure the titanic trout in.
“The fish skyrocketed out of the water,” said Flaherty. “As soon as I hooked it, I was whooping it up, while a crowd gathered around the whole time.”
Flaherty and his family came to the lake every year as a Mother’s Day tradition, and that included a lot of fishing. The angler told the DFW that it took him an estimated 15 minutes to pull the fish in from where he was on the boat launch. No net was needed. Laid out on the ground, the hybrid trout measured an impressive 32 inches long and 21.75 inches in girth. The fish’s weight surpassed the previous state record by 3.45 pounds and just narrowly missed the world record.
According to the International Game Fish Association, the heaviest tiger trout ever caught on rod and reel is a 20-pound, 13-ounce fish by Pete Friedland in Lake Michigan in 1978. Flaherty’s catch is believed to come in second—and it did not come without a price.
“I’ve caught enough bass to know about ‘bassers thumb’ but this thing tore me up,” Flaherty told The Coeur d’ Alene Press. “I wasn’t sure I could hang on to it so I put my thumb in its mouth and the fish started thrashing. It wasn’t until I sat down that I realized my whole hand was bloody.”
The angler remarked that the fish was very aggressive. It even bore a treble hook from a previous battle with another angler, which may have been very well Flaherty himself.. He claimed that he managed to hook another large fish four years ago but ultimately lost it. If it was truly the same trout he fought before, then he at least had the good fortune to hook it again after it had grown to record size.
For this angler, “the one that got away” is going up on a wall.
Image courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife